Monthly Archives: November 2011

What? You don’t pay 150 dollars a yard for fabric? Darling, you haven’t LIVED

I was having a conversation with some ladyfriends recently and we were discussing shopping, and the holidays, and what we pay for things. Or more, what we would be willing to pay for things. Since I’ve started sewing, which none of my friends do, really, I don’t actually buy much clothing anymore. I buy jersey tops, jeans, underwear and shoes. And the rare sweater, but I tend to get most of those at thrift stores or vintage shops. Still, I browse enough websites and window shop enough to be kept abreast of what is out there and what it all costs. And of course, I turn to many a shop for inspiration/blatant copy-catting. ANYway, we were discussing buying stuff and what seems reasonable to us and we all came to the conclusion that this is completely relative.

For example, say you love a top. And this top is typically 100 dollars, it’s from Anthropologie or what have you and it’s lovely and out of your price range. Then the top goes on sale. Awesome. But the sale price is 40 dollars. Now, on one level, this is a 60% discount, I mean, that’s amazing. But on another level, that’s still 40 dollars, not exactly a deal. Or is it? Because of course that all depends on your budget and your salary and your socio-economic background and what you grew up with and what, really, when you say reasonable, you really mean.

But what does any of this have to do with sewing and crafting, you might be asking yourself. Well, the question I really want to ask is, how much would you pay for fabric? What seems reasonable to you? What seems cheap? And what, if anything, is too much to pay?

This is a question I’ve been considering for a long time, and it’s one that finally came to head this past weekend when I sojourned up to New York to shop in the Garment District with my friend Michael, and see Punchdrunk’s mind-blowing performance piece Sleep No More (which I will soon be blogging about over here, so jump  over in the next few days, if you are interested). I should at this point mention that when it comes to fabric, I love nothing so much as a bargain. I tend to do most of my shopping here, in Philadelphia, scouring Jomar and Fabric Row, poking around dusty little shops and annoying surly fabric cutters with my questions. That’s just how I roll. I enjoy the hunt, the search for something special and inexpensive among all the rubble. So I don’t spend a whole lot of time in the garment district, in fact, this was my first ever trip to buy fabric.

I met up with Michael,

who works at a little brand called Theory, at the famous big button that has become the icon of the New York Garment District.

May I just point out that this button would be useless? It has five holes. That’s foolish.

Our first stop, after a catch up session, was at the notorious B and J Fabrics. Which is magnificent. And, like most things in New York, so expensive that you feel like you might actually have to pay to breathe.

However, the selection is magnificent. MAGNIFICENT.

Look at that. 85 a yard. Like you do.

Wools you ache to touch.

Silk jersey for a mere 53 a yard. It’s practically a bargain!

I also got to see Liberty of London fabrics in person for the very first time. And I have to say, they may be made of cotton, but they FEEL like they are made of clouds. And sunshine. And happiness. Sigh.

But for all this, I didn’t buy a damn thing at B and J. Why? Well, frankly, I just can’t justify that to myself. Can you?

But I did treat myself to this silk darling at Mood. Which is also awesome. And a hell of a lot friendlier.

Oh, this thing is luscious. It’s a panel, and it’s awesome, and I think I know what I want to do with it (blouse, duh). And, now that I think of it, at 14 dollars a yard it’s the most I’ve ever paid per yard in my life. What? I told you I was cheap!

I also picked up so other treasures, mostly at Paron’s, whose sale Annex is my new best friend, but you will just have to wait around to see those. But you CAN see how happy I was (am) with my big bag of fabric:

Or maybe it was just the Old Fashioned I enjoyed.

In total I purchased about 12 yards of fabric (BAD Leah) for, on average, 7 dollars a yard (GOOD Leah). And for me, that’s rather high. So what would you pay for fabric? Do you have expensive tastes, or are you all about the thrift store finds and vintage sheets? Do you see fabric as an investment? What do you consider to be a good deal? I’m honestly curious, here, no judgement! As long as you don’t begrudge me my cheap thrills I promise not to make fun of your criminally expensive 4 ply-silk fetish. To each their own…

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Filed under Fabric, Inspiration

I promise I’m not a total slacker

I solemnly swear I do a lot of things with my time. They just aren’t always well photographed. I have a lot of respect/hate for these amazing bloggers whose husbands/boyfriends/life partners shoot amazing photos. I am NOT among them. I have yet to find someone who shoots great photos of me and my creations. Well, that’s not fair. People do shoot great photos of me, but I feel bad asking them. However, if I was having sex with someone, well, I feel like that would be a fair exchange. Maybe I should put out an ad:

SWF, excellent cook, cute as a button, seeks amorous fashion photograph. Must like theater. Nerdy glasses a plus. No serial killers, please.

That’s gonna work, right? Totally.

But I have been doing quite a bit these days, and making all kinds of neat things. I took a knitting class at Loop, which is the co-owner of my beloved Spool, and the most addicting place in the world. The stores are literally next to each other. It’s like putting a crack den next to a heroin shop (…do they have heroin shops?) and then pointing the addicts the way. So now I’ve been getting into knitting, which means more patterns to drool over, more stashing, more things to fill my time….yep. Good times. And I’ve made some gifts! Becca, Jenny, Lisa, look away right now if you don’t want to ruin the surprise.

This, someday, is going to be a neckwarmer. Man, knitting takes FOREVER. If sewing is a puzzle, then knitting is a maze, folks. You heard it here first! But I’ve already made two of them, so I feel like I’m going to make it out alive.

Apologies for the weird shadow. Don't know what that's about.

 

Yeah. I’m into knitting. I do make time for it, though. Since I moved out of my parents house and into my new apartment, I bring over my knitting whenever I go over to watch a netflix. Knitting is so much more mobile then sewing.

And what else is new? Oh, yeah. This guy.

This is Brother Cadfael. He is my new cat. Yes. Let the lifetime of spinsterhood begin. This is probably how it happened for Miss Marple. But on the flip side, I will get to solve crimes!  He is named after a fictional detective from a series by Ellis Peters. Because that’s how I roll. Also, Derek Jacobi played him in the BBC series. Pretty damn bad-ass.I rescued my Brothe Cadfael from a life on the streets, and he spends most of his time sleeping and staring at me adoringly. But hey, who DOESN’T?

And I’ve been sewing! Because the holidays are almost upon us (which, I mean, what the hell? How does this happen? Wasn’t it JUST July? No? Who is with me? I’m like a tote bag away from throwing up my hands and just buying stuff. But I will stay strong, people. With the help of wine). And I found this free tie pattern online, so, gentlemen in my life, get excited.

I hate cutting things. The things I do for people.

And I made myself some new pajamas. I like them, but I don’t LOVE them. The fit of the pattern is a little weird. I made them from a 1960’s pattern so they are short and the top is super short and they clearly were not designed for ladies with hips. It’s a juniors pattern, so I suppose that’s really my fault. I personally had hips a a junior, but I guess that’s a modern invention.

And tote bags. Lots of tote bags. Yeah.

I also made a dress for my company’s opening last week. It’s awesome. But I didn’t get GREAT photos because we were in a bar afterwards and we were drinking so neither the subject, yours truly, or the photographer (Brenna, who is the best) were really in a position to take the best shots. Well, we took SHOTS, but not photos. Know what I’m sayin’? I don’t know why people think theater is lame. We bring whiskey to practically everything. Fact.So I can’t show you the dress, really, but here is just a little preview!

Yep. That’s about all I’ve been up to. What about you guys?

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Filed under Inspiration, Knitting, Sewing

The Rear View Pants

I should start this off by saying that, like many women, I am not overly found of my posterior. I don’t hate it, but it’s not, um, well, it gets noticed. Blame my Puerto Rican father or my love of bread, both probably play a role in keeping my junk in it’s trunk. And, honestly, I work out, I bike and do pilates, I keep everything in it’s place, it just so happens that genetically (and do to my deep seated love of carbohydrates) I will never have the tiny backside of a runway model or ballet dancer. And that’s just life, right?

But because my bottom makes it’s presence felt in a pair of pants, I was a bit concerned about making my own trousers. I mean, let’s get real, here, pants are scary.  Skirts, unless they are of the pencil variety, are easy peasey when it comes to fit, really, espeically when you are a beginner. Measure your waist, gather the fabric and bam, full skirt with a high waist, done, wear that sucker. But pants are more complicated, more terrifying, even. So when the lovely and talented Sarai of everyone’s favorite pattern company released a pants pattern, I was like, what now? and then I was like, awesome! and then I was like, oh, hell. Nevertheless I conquered my fears, grided my loins, measured said loins, because, hell, these are pants here, and jumped into a pair of Colette Patterns’ Clovers. And you know what?

They actually fit! How cool is that?

Ignore the wrinkles, especially around the knees.  This is like the fifth time I’ve worn them, so they have stretched out a little bit.

I, of course, made a muslin before I made these. And when I tried it on? It was perfect. No stretching, no crotch issues, nothing. I have absolutely no idea how that happened, I certainly have far from a perfect body and I’ve never ever ever liked my legs. But whatever stars aligned and miracles of fit and design occured gave me the right shape for the Clover. Of course, it might just be a surpremely awesome and well sized pattern….

A little dance shot. Like you do, shooting in the November chill outside of your work.  Things have been busy lately at work as we gear up for the opening of this play (which is awesome, people, if you are around don’t miss it!) so I had but a few moments to force my kind co-worker Clara to take these photos.

I made only one change to this pattern, which, by the way, has impeccable directions, I now see what all the fuss is about. I also checked out the sew-along on Colleterie, but honestly, everything was so blissfully clear in the pattern that I relied on the sew-along less then I thought I would.

I used view A, the longer option, and I did put in the pockets. I would not do this again. (Who am I kidding, I need no subjective, there is no way I’m not making ten pairs of these glorious pants) The pockets are totally adorable, but completely useless. I cut out a size 6 and needed no grading or anything. No one is more surprised then I. Weirdly enough, I also lengthened the pants by 3 inches. Leah, you might say, are you a crazy-face? (Yes) You are but a short little person, barely 5 foot three! Why would you lengthen? Well, you see, I wanted them to just hit my ankles so I could wear them in the rough Philadelphia winter!

And they do. Though as I look at this I see a stray thread! Horrors!

I used a 98% wool 2% lycra blend I got at fabric.com for 3 dollars a yard, plus a zipper I got in bag of 80 9 inch invisible zippers for 2 dollars. Oh, and Gutterman thread, which my machine likes more then anything else. I followed this online tutorial from Sew Serendipity for how to put in an invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot. The internet seems to be all up in arms about this, so may I just say, I did it, it worked, it wasn’t perfectly perfect, but hell, it was my first time ever trying it and it totally worked for me!

Enjoy jibber jabber, you say, let’s see the Rear View!

There. You’d want to give that a slap or a pinch if it was social acceptable, right?

Yeah. Yeah you would.

You may or may not have noticed that these photos are all juicily saturated with color and edged in black. Well, that’s because I literally just discovered picnik.com and I love it. I want to marry it, and have it’s beautiful digital fee-free babies.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to go celebrate my butt. Feel free to watch me walk away, all well tailored and everything.

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Filed under Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Because of the Buttons Skirt

You know how something you loathe, even fear it, perhaps, and then, once you learn how to do it or more about, it becomes your absolute favorite thing? Well, I can’t honestly say that I adore making buttonholes, but with my new sewing machine and it’s glorious button hole foot and easy buttonholes, at the very least they are far less of a struggle these days. And though I’m not in love with making them, I do really feel like you need to practice the things you don’t like so you can improve and not live in fear of the buttons. Or the invisible zippers. Or the tailoring. Or whatever.

So when I approached BurdaStyle’s FREE PATTERN Helena Skirt, complete with it’s buttons down the center, I gritted my teeth, shored up my courage, and jumped right in. And the truth is, other then the buttonholes, this skirt is easy peasy. I literally made it in one evening, which is so not my style. I mean, I see these people who can make things in three hours or less and I think, dude, are you on speed? And can I have some? Because I could be so much more efficient on speed. Sigh. They never respond, those bastards, too busy making one hour outfits.

 

I started taking photos of this skirt more then a week ago, and then I got deathly ill. I’m talking completely useless, congested, delirious, and with a voice like a three pack a day smoker. It was insanely sexy, honestly. I’m sorry you missed it.

I took said photos outside on a bitterly cold day, and then got really sick. Cause and effect? Of course not, but it couldn’t have helped…

I love this skirt. It’s a little funky, I suppose, with the stripes, but I find it adorable and surprisingly easy to pair with things.I used a wool blend (I think?) that I bought for 3 dollars from a yard sale about 2 months ago. It has a tendency to wrinkle a bit, which makes me think it’s not pure wool, but it’s warm enough and perfect for fall.

And it has pockets! Which I added, they were not in the original pattern. But hey, what doesn’t improve with pockets? This fabric may be a touch too heavy for this pattern, I must say. I’ve seen a lot of versions of this skirt on Burda Style, and they seem to hang just a bit better then mine. So if I made it again I would use something else. But I do love this skirt, so I can’t be too hard on it.  And a lot of that love has to do with the buttons:

Aren’t they adorable? Wooden buttons from Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet. FTW.

Jump shot! I’m just going to always include a jump shot. I clearly look best when in motion.

 

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Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing